Category Archives: 2018 State Election

New Zealand Tree Growers Enjoying Good Times

Pine

New Zealand has one of the world’s most successful forest industries.

And right now they are riding the tide of strong demand and high prices.

New Zealand farmers will be raking in the money.

http://www.laurieforestry.co.nz/Monthly-Newsletter

Forest owners are enjoying the most sustained, stable and highest prices for logs ever recorded.

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/market-report/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1711/S00809/nz-structural-log-prices-rise-to-24-year-high.htm

It’s mostly about China and export markets.

Log export markets are absolutely vital to the New Zealand forest industry.

Why?

Because the New Zealand forest industry is ALL about profitable private tree growers. Local New Zealand sawmillers have to survive in a very competitive market. This keeps them focused, efficient and hardworking. That’s business!

And for that the forest industry makes a huge contribution to the New Zealand economy.

Why can’t Tasmania have a forest industry like New Zealand?

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Death Certificate

Logging

Anyone reading these two recent articles by finance commentator John Lawrence would wonder if there is anyone in Tasmanian politics or public forest administration with any intelligence or integrity.

What an extraordinary tale of corruption, incompetence and waste.

Forestry Tasmania’s demise in detail

And

Forestry Tasmania’s final report

“total government (cash) assistance to the (Tasmanian) forestry industry (including Forestry Tasmania) is $1.4 billion over the past 20 years”!!!

Let me type that again:

$1.4 billion over the past 20 years!!!!

That is an average $70 million per year in cash subsidies for 20 years to the Tasmanian forest industry.

WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WASTE!

John Lawrence has been analysing and reporting on the economics of public forest administration in Tasmania since 2009. He knows the details better than anyone.

http://tasfintalk.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Forestry%20Tasmania

Anyone who has a business dependent on Tasmanian timbers from public forests is on short notice.

Your days are numbered!

These two documents should be the Death Certificate of the public native forest industry in Tasmania.

As a forester I find it very difficult.

Private Forests Tasmania Annual Report 2016-17

plantationharvest

It is good to see that the private forest grower is now the dominant force in the Tasmanian forest industry. Well almost!!

Much of the current success is due to salvage logging of hardwood plantations established under the disastrous MIS schemes of 1996-2008. Many of these plantations are not being harvested but being bulldozed and converted back to pasture. Many more are being harvested and converted back to pasture. Only about 30% of these plantations are expected to be replanted.

Be that as it may it gives private growers a brief opportunity to dominate what has been a Government run industry.

Despite this success Tasmania still does not have forest policy based on profitable private tree growers.

The forest industry is still in political and social crisis.

And Private Forests Tasmania still does not have any measurable, achievable goals and objectives for the industry. No blackwood/high quality timber objectives. No radiate pine objectives. Nothing!

It’s hard to make progress without a plan!

 

Dear Client/Stakeholder

I am writing to let you know that Private Forests Tasmania’s (PFT) Annual Report has been tabled in Parliament.  The report provides evidence of PFT’s achievements for the 2016-17 financial year.

I encourage you to have a look at our report now available from PFT’s website PFT Annual Report 2016-17.  The key outcomes are highlighted in the Year in Review on pages 1-4, and important information on the private forest estate on pages 7-13.

http://www.pft.tas.gov.au/home/home_articles/annual_report_2016-17

Highlights are outlined below:

 

  • Private Forests Tasmania’s (PFT) Annual Report provides evidence of the importance of the private forestry sector to Tasmania’s economy and the achievements of the Authority to support the sector.
  • During the year PFT responded to requests for assistance and advice from 524 private forest owners; continued to build and strengthen relationships with companies and stakeholder groups; researched, pursued and promoted new market opportunities for wood; continued initiatives targeting an expansion of the private forest estate; and provided input and advice to government on matters of relevance to the private forestry sector.
  • At 1,099,000 hectares, the private forest estate comprises approximately 30% of Tasmania’s reported forest area.
  • The native forest component (858,000 hectares) comprises 26% of the State’s native forest area.
  • The plantation component (241,000 hectares) comprises 78% of the State’s plantation area.
  • This year, the total private forest harvest rose well beyond historic levels increasing 32% from 2015-16 to supply 3.89 million tonnes of logs to the market. This increase follows on from the large increase of 48.5% from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and continues the trend of increasing production that commenced from the record low of 2011-12 (1.11 million tonnes). Levels of production in 2016-17 were the highest achieved since 1994-95 (when PFT began collecting data) being 0.71 million tonnes (22%) higher than the previous high in 1999-00 (3.19 million tonnes).
  • The increase in production primarily comprised logs sourced from hardwood plantations. However, there was also a significant increase in the supply of logs from softwood plantations.
  • The opening of the Macquarie Wharf log export facility provided much needed market options for the south of the State and contributed to increases in log exports, together with increases from northern ports. Importantly, the Macquarie Wharf facility added value to some forest areas that had become of marginal economic value after the closure of the Triabunna export facility in 2011.
  • The dominance of the plantation based sector continues with logs supplied from plantations comprising 96% of the total Tasmanian private forest harvest, the highest proportion recorded to date. Plantation logs have comprised >90% of the Tasmanian private forest harvest since 2012-13 having steadily risen from 15% in 1994-95.
  • Harvesting of hardwood plantations increased significantly, reaching a new high in 2016-17 of 2.46 million tonnes – an increase of 37% from 2015-16. This follows an 89% increase in the previous year.
  • Increases over the 2015-16 levels of production included a very significant (409%) increase in sawlog, veneer and ply log together with a 22% increase in pulp log. The large increase in sawlog, veneer and ply log predominantly comprised export logs, with only 1,600 tonnes sawn or peeled domestically.
  • An increase in hardwood plantation harvest was anticipated last year due to the increased processing capacity bought on-line in northern Tasmania resulting from the finalisation of the Gunns assets sale. This increased capacity has underpinned a resumption of appropriate harvesting levels for the maturing plantation estate and facilitated the harvesting of the backlog of plantations that accumulated during the 5 year period prior to the asset sale. Furthermore, options to sell plantation hardwoods from the south of the State through Macquarie Wharf, that were bought online in 2016-17, contributed to overall increased production.
  • The private softwood harvest increased significantly in 2016-17, by 0.29 million tonnes (30%) to 1.27 million tonnes. This production level is in line with what is thought to be the long term sustainable yield of the private softwood estate. The increase is attributed to increased output from existing ports and processing facilities in conjunction with output from the new export facility for southern Tasmania at Macquarie Wharf.
  • The private estate’s contribution to overall State forestry production has increased from 58% in 2013-14 to 73% in 2016-17- reinforcing the importance of the private estate to the Tasmanian forestry sector and its dominance from a log volume supply perspective, and, its strategic importance to the forest products sector.
  • These metrics emphasise why the private forest estate is such an important asset for the forestry sector and for the general economic, social and environmental well-being of Tasmania as a whole – with more to contribute.
  • One of PFT’s major objectives is to facilitate the expansion of the private forest estate through its Agroforestry project, funded by the Government’s Agrivision 2050 Plan. Working with UTas and CSIRO, the project aims to provide compelling evidence to farmers of the $value commercial woodlots and shelterbelts can have on agricultural returns prior to tree harvest, convincing more farmers to plant more trees.  The program will provide a win-win for agriculture and forestry, enhancing farm productivity, profitability and resilience whilst simultaneously expanding the volume of forest product available to processors. Considerable research activities continued during the year.
  • PFT’s forest management certification project remained an important focus with the draft documentation needed to form an ‘independent group certification option’ being completed and shared with interested parties. This will add to the quality certification options already available through the forest management companies.  PFT promotes all options to interested private forest owners.
  • The Authority delivered a comprehensive financial surplus of $413k, an increase of 34% from 2015-16.
  • An important highlight during the reporting period was the highly successful Australian Forest Growers Biennial National Conference held in Launceston between 23- 26 October 2016. PFT, as the principal sponsor, worked closely with the AFG Conference Organising Committee and AFG National Office over 12 months to lead, plan and deliver this premier event.
  • Other highlights for the year included the conduct of several field days and seminars; the maintenance of an active research program; and engaging with/assisting other land management organisations on matters that benefit private forest owners.

Standing Tall?

Farmer

What can you say about Tasmania farmers trying to grow trees for profit in what must be one of the most hostile marketplaces in the world for growing trees.

Why hostile? Tasmania is equivalent to the forest industry Middle East – a political/commercial/social war zone for the past 35 years with no peace in sight.

Are they deluded? Are they brave? Are they profitable?

They are certainly dedicated and passionate.

These farmers need to be wearing full body armour.

The ABC rural program Landline recently did a segment of farm forestry in Tasmania.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-04/standing-tall:-tasmanias-forestry-future/9119218

As demand for timber outstrips local supply, the CSIRO is encouraging Tasmanian farmers and private landowners to join the agroforestry sector.

Even that one promotion sentence by the ABC is enough to make me despair.

Here’s a news story the ABC did about the Landline feature:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-05/tasmania-farmers-sow-agroforestry-seeds-as-demand-for-wood-rises/9109216

It’s not a story I find very encouraging. In fact if I was a farmer reading this I’d be having a quiet laugh over my coffee.

As a forester I’ve been reading stories like these for the past 40 years whilst watching the forest industry march to oblivion. It’s the same old story, which hasn’t changed in 40 years. Obviously the story doesn’t work. Why?

One of the problems for these farmers is that they have no power in the political, social or commercial marketplace. They have no voice. No one represents their interests.

Notionally the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) is supposed to represent the interests of farm forestry, but they do nothing. Why? Because doing something means standing up to the politicians and a sycophantic industry.

The TFGA can’t even create a farm forestry vision for the future. Not a single policy.

http://www.tfga.com.au/

So farmers like Graham and Roger are in No Man’s Land, caught between warring parties.

The ONLY basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growers, with minimal political and community conflict.

Tasmania is a very long way from that objective.

Tasmanian Rainforest Plunder

Rainforest2

As was inevitable the Tasmanian Government has now enacted the Tasmanian Special Species Management Plan October 2017.

http://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/forestry/special_species_timber_management_plan

It is a sad day for Tasmania.

With no transparency, accountability or oversight this Plan is guaranteed to become yet another Tasmanian forest industry disaster.

Why does Tasmania do it?

Tasmania is giving away its ancient rainforests.

Yes and blackwood too. That’s right! Free blackwood timber for the taking.

All you need to do is fill in the form, and grab your chainsaw and truck and help yourself.

4255 submissions were received in the public consultation process of the Plan of which 99.9% were explicitly opposed to rainforest and oldgrowth logging. But the Tasmanian Government holds the community in complete contempt and has enacted the Plan regardless.

It is now inevitable that the forestry wars will resume in earnest, with people calling for a market boycott.

I certainly support the call for a consumer boycott of Tasmanian timbers.

It is now well and truly time to shut down public native forestry in Tasmania. After 35 years of political and community conflict and $billions of dollars of taxpayers money wasted on a moribund industry it is time to stop this once and for all.

With a State election coming up in 2018 it will be interesting to see what position the Tasmanian Labor Party will take on this issue.

No matter what it is going to be yet another ugly bitter election campaign.

Has one act changed our course forever?

KL

Kevin Lyons (Tasmanian deputy premier 1969 – 1972)

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/has-one-act-changed-our-course-forever/news-story/d1b6601e86aafbed4f06f20233e3c10f

This excellent short article in last Saturdays Mercury (5/8/2017) newspaper provides interesting background to how first the Hydro and then the forest industry became willing participants in the environmental wars that have dominated Tasmanian politics for the past 45 years.

The alleged bribing of a State MP and the bringing down of an elected Government provided the spark that went on to become first the dam wars (1970-1983) and then the forestry wars/crisis (1983-present).

The arrival of a party (the United Tasmania Group that went on to become the Greens) focused on the environment was a double-edged sword. It delivered victories for the natural world, and attracted support from disaffected Labor and Liberal voters.

However, without a mandate to govern, the presence of the Greens has helped marginalise the environment as a party-political issue rather than as a matter that should be front and centre of all human endeavour.

Anti-Green sentiment is now a factor in the voting patterns of a cohort of Tasmanians large enough to deliver power to whichever major party is prepared to harvest the negativity.

It is a vicious cycle. Divisions in our community are amplified by major parties competing for the anti-Green vote. Governing parties incite this conflict to maintain power. We have seen it all the way through from premiers such as Reece to Robin Gray and Paul Lennon, with overt displays of aggression and ridicule to green ideas in a bid to firm their voter base.

The forest industry is not mentioned specifically but any Tasmanian knows immediately what the author is talking about. Up until 2011 the forest industry was a more-than-willing participant in these high-stakes political games.

But the only winners in political games are the politicians. Everyone else loses!

And so many Tasmanians still believe the political rhetoric as if it was gospel. Finger pointing has become a Tasmanian obsession.

A vicious and destructive cycle indeed!

Recommended reading.

Special Timbers Welfare State

TSSMP

A mere 7 years after the last special species management plan was produced by Forestry Tasmania in 2010 comes another attempt at failed forest policy in Tasmania.

http://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/forestry/special_species_timber_management_plan

This new Plan will open up 420,000 ha of pristine public native rainforest and oldgrowth for taxpayer funded plundering by the special timbers industry. This includes 225,000 ha of rainforest and oldgrowth in conservation reserves.

The Plan is essentially a help-yourself DIY approach to public forest management, with an Open Season on the last of Tasmania’s rainforest and oldgrowth.

After the Executive Summary the Plan begins by trying to tell us how important the special timbers industry is; total industry employment, total value, etc.

It’s like the Government telling us that Centrelink is a commercial business not welfare.

The Tasmanian Government believes in Welfare State Forestry, even whilst in competition with private tree growers! So profitability, good commercial management and responsible forest management are out the door.

This draft Plan is not a business plan.

This draft special timbers management plan begins with the premise that Tasmania’s last remaining oldgrowth and rainforests exist to be plundered…….at taxpayers expense……for the exclusive benefit of a handful of local woodworkers!

This draft special timbers management plan does not begin with the premise that Tasmania’s premium timbers should be sold into competitive open markets to help fund schools, roads and hospitals.

Nor does the Plan even consider whether these forests are more valuable left untouched.

In 2010 the special timbers industry was formally admitted into Tasmania’s Welfare State. This new draft management plan now takes that Welfare State to a whole new level of plunder, waste and welfare.

The only basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growing.

This Plan represents the exact opposite. It’s a disaster for current and potential private blackwood growers.

The draft Plan is open for submissions until 9am Monday 28 August 2017. Submissions can be sent directly to the Department of State Growth by emailing: specialspecies@stategrowth.tas.gov.au

The Plan will become law once it is signed and gazetted by the Minister.